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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dawgs of the Decade: The Cornerbacks

Through a decade of success, there have been plenty of players who have made their mark in a Georgia uniform, and for the next two weeks, The Telegraph will be giving you the chance to vote on your picks for the Bulldogs’ All-Decade team for the 2000s. We’ll go position-by-position, and you’ll pick the winners by going to www.macon.com/decade to vote.

Our ninth ballot is for Georgia’s top cornerbacks of the decade, and the nominees are:

(Note: Years as one of Georgia’s starters in parentheses. The top two vote-getters will make the team.)

Tim Wansley (1999-2001). When Mark Richt was hired before the 2001 season, it came with high expectations and one mandate: Beat Georgia Tech. It was Wansley’s interception return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter of that year’s game against the Yellow Jackets that ensured Richt was successful in his first attempt against Tech, but there was much more to Wansley’s career than his signature play. He was an All-SEC performer in 2000 and 2001, and led the team with six interceptions in 2000 – two of which he returned for TDs. He was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2002 NFL draft.

Tim Jennings (2003-2005). A three-year starter, Jennings was small in stature but came up big on game days. As a senior in 2005, he helped the Bulldogs to an SEC title and was named to the All-SEC team. He finished with 56 tackles and four interceptions that season, including one he returned for a touchdown against LSU in the conference championship game. For his career, he finished with 170 tackles, 10 for a loss, and made 10 interceptions. His 194 career return yards off picks ranks fifth in school history. After winning two SEC titles with the Bulldogs, Jennings went on to win a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts.

Demario Minter (2004-2005). An All-SEC selection as a senior, Minter helped anchor Georgia’s secondary as the Bulldogs won the 2005 SEC championship. Minter’s early career was sidetracked by off-field issues, but after coming up big in Georgia’s 2004 Capital One Bowl win over Purdue, he quickly became a stalwart on defense his final two seasons. His interception in the end zone helped Georgia thwart Tennessee in 2005, and he finished his career with 124 tackles and 23 pass deflections. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL draft.

Paul Oliver (2006). Oliver’s career might be best remembered for his role as Calvin Johnson’s arch nemesis. Oliver was a critical cog in halting the superstar receiver during his days at Georgia Tech, and his fourth-quarter interception in 2006 helped seal the Bulldogs win over the Yellow Jackets that year. In what turned out to be his final game at Georgia, he had a career-best nine tackles, including three for a loss against Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. For is career, he made 94 tackles and had seven interceptions. He currently plays for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.

Prince Miller (2007-2009). Never fully embraced by the fans, Miller still spent parts of four seasons as a starter in Georgia’s defensive backfield. Miller recorded his first career interception in Georgia’s Sugar Bowl win over Hawaii in 2007. He followed that up with a strong 2008 season in which he tallied 60 tackles, including 11 in a win over Kentucky. In 2009, he started every game of his senior season, making 37 tackles, including four for a loss.

Asher Allen (2007-2008). Part of Georgia’s star-studded 2006 recruiting class, Allen was a contributor for the Bulldogs’ defense almost from the beginning. As a sophomore in 2007, Allen blossomed, starting 11 games and making 64 tackles. He had two sacks and three interceptions that season, including two in Georgia’s Sugar Bowl victory over Hawaii. As a junior in 2008, Allen was a rare consistent producer on a defense that struggled at times. He started all 13 games, making 53 tackles, including nine in the Bulldogs’ Capital One Bowl win over Michigan State, despite playing much of the season with a broken hand. He was selected in the third round of the 2009 NFL draft.

Bruce Thornton (2001-2003). Perhaps Willie Martinez’s biggest success story at Georgia, Thornton opened his career as a tailback under Jim Donnan, but was converted to corner when Martinez arrived in 2001. The move was a fortuitous one for the Bulldogs. Although he was a three-year starter, it was his 75-yard interception return for a TD against Florida State in 2003 that helped Georgia to its first Sugar Bowl victory in 22 years. In his career, Thornton made 129 tackles and collected four interceptions, numbers that were often deflated because opponents simply avoided throwing to his side of the field.

So, who gets your vote? Go to www.macon.com/decade to cast your ballot or vote in our previous categories, and be sure to pick up a copy of the December 27th issue of The Telegraph to find out the winners.

And don't forget to leave your comments here on the blog. Tell us about why you made your selection and your favorite memories of those players, and your comments could appear in our final results issue of The Telegraph.

6 comments:

jferg said...

Hale,
Off Topic: Do you have any practice updates? How are the guys doing?

The Realist said...

There were some good ones. For my money, Demario Minter was my favorite because runs to his side of the field were fruitless. He was a heck of a tackler, and a good cover guy to boot.

Hobnail_Boot said...

The Thornton/Bryant duo was shut-down when DeCory was healthy.

Bruce gets my vote.

David Hale said...

jferg -- players are saying it's been spirited. Boykin was actually saying it's been a sort of strange energy with the GAs working practice -- sort of a youthful exuberance. It'll be hard to know for sure though until we see the product on the field in Shreveport.

Universal Remonster said...

Thornton was one of my favorites because he could cover AND lay the wood, but my vote goes to Time Jennings. Got to love the fight in the little guys.

JJH4 said...

What happened to Decory Bryant really was a shame. When he was out there, there wasn't anyone better.